Kenny Rogers biography
Kenny Rogers was born August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas. Rogers released The Gambler in 1978. The title track became another huge country and pop hit and gave Rogers his second Grammy Award. In addition to his solo work, Rogers recorded a series of hits with country legend Dottie West. By this time, he was a true crossover artist, enjoying enormous success on both the country and pop charts.
Singer and songwriter Kenneth Donald Rogers was born on August 21, 1938, in Houston, Texas. Rogers grew up poor, living with his parents and six siblings in a federal housing project. By high school, he knew that he wanted to pursue a music career. He bought himself a guitar, and started a group called the Scholars. The band had a rockabilly sound and scored a few local hits. Breaking out on his own, Rogers recorded the 1958 hit single, "That Crazy Feeling," for the Carlton label. He even got to perform the song on the popular music program American Bandstand. Changing genres, Rogers then played bass with the Bobby Doyle Trio, a jazz group.
Moving on to folk-pop style, Rogers was asked to join the New Christy Minstrels in 1966. He left after a year, along with a few other members of the group, to form the First Edition. Fusing folk, rock, and country, the group quickly scored a hit with the psychedelic "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)." The band soon became known as Kenny Rogers and the First Edition and landed their own syndicated music show. They scored a few more hits, such as Mel Tillis' "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town."
In 1974, Rogers left the group to go solo again. He decided to focus his energy on country music and "Love Lifted Me" became his first solo top 20 country hit in 1975. Two years later, Rogers reached the top of the country charts with the mournful ballad "Lucille," about a man being left by his wife. The song also did well on the pop charts, making it into the top 5. It also brought Rogers his first Grammy Award—this time for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
Quickly following up this success, Rogers released The Gambler in 1978. The title track became another huge country and pop hit and gave Rogers his second Grammy Award. He also showed his tender side on the recording with the popular ballad "She Believes in Me." Kenny (1979) featured such hits as "Coward of the County" and "You Decorated My Life." Around this time, he wrote the advice book Making It With Music: Kenny Rogers' Guide to the Music Business (1978).
In addition to his solo work, Rogers recorded a series of hits with country legend Dottie West. The two reached the top of the country charts with "Every Time Two Fools Collide" (1978), "All I Ever Need Is You" (1979) and "What Are We Doin' In Love" (1981). Also in 1981, Rogers held the No. 1 spot on the pop charts for six weeks with his version of Lionel Richie's "Lady."
By this time, Rogers was a true crossover artist, enjoying enormous success on both the country and pop charts.
He collaborated with such pop stars as Kim Carnes and Sheena Easton. Turning to acting, Rogers starred in several television movies inspired by his songs, including 1980's The Gambler, which spawned several sequels, and 1981's Coward of the County. On the big screen, he played a race car driver in the comedy Six Pack (1982).
In 1983, Rogers scored one of his biggest hits: a duet with Dolly Parton called "Islands in the Stream." Written by the Bee Gees, the song went to the top of both the country and pop charts. Rogers and Parton won the Academy of Country Music Award for Single of the Year for their efforts. After this, Rogers continued to thrive as a country music performer, but his ability to crossover to pop music success started to wane. Among the hits from this period is his duet with Ronnie Milsap, "Make No Mistake, She's Mine," which won the 1988 Grammy Award for Best Duo Country Vocal Performance.
In addition to music, Rogers also demonstrated a passion for photography. Images that he took while traveling around the country were published in the 1986 collection Kenny Roger's America. "Music is what I am, but photography would probably be second," he later explained to People magazine. The following year, Rogers published another collection called Your Friends and Mine.
Continuing to act, Rogers appeared in such television movies as Christmas in America (1990) and MacShayne: Winner Takes All (1994). Rogers also began exploring other business opportunities. In 1991, he started his own restaurant franchise called Kenny Rogers Roasters. He later sold the venture to Nathan's Famous, Inc. in 1998.
That same year, Rogers created his own record label, Dreamcatcher Entertainment. He also starred in his own off-Broadway Christmas show The Toy Shoppe around that time. Releasing his next album, She Rides Wild Horses, in 1999, Rogers enjoyed a return to the charts with the hit "The Greatest," which told the story of a boy's love of baseball. He scored another hit with "Buy Me a Rose" off the same album.
Rogers went through a dramatic change in his personal life in 2004. He and his fifth wife, Wanda, welcomed twin boys Jordan and Justin in July—just a month before his 66th birthday. "They say that twins at my age will either make you or break you. Right now I'm leaning towards break. I would kill for the energy they've got," Rogers told People magazine. He has three older children from his previous marriages. That same year, Rogers published his children's book, Christmas in Canaan, which was later turned into a television movie.
Rogers also made headlines for undergoing plastic surgery. Longtime fans were surprised by his appearance on American Idol in 2006. On the show to promote his latest album, Water & Bridges, Rogers showed off his efforts to make his face more youthful. He wasn't completely happy with the results, however, complaining about how his eyes turned out.
In 2009, he celebrated his long career with Kenny Rogers: The First 50 Years, a musical retrospective.
Rogers has made over 65 albums and sold more than 105 million copies worldwide. And he shows no signs of slowing down, continuing to play numerous concert dates throughout the year and touring with his Christmas show during the holidays.
Rogers received recognition for his substantial musical contributions in 2013 when he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. At the CMA Awards held that November, he also received the Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award. Some of country's top performers turned out to honor Rogers, including Jennifer Nettles and Darius Rucker.